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    • #16536
      Bailey Vincent
      Keymaster

      Yesterday I joked that I was once a raccoon in a former life, but really, I identify with a lot of animals.

      My family calls me a “jellyfish” because I am missing some organs but still try to be graceful (I also am truly obsessed with them, and post jellyfish footage periodically for others as visual meditation, since Deaf people can’t benefit from audio-based app resources).

      My Mom has always called me a Bumblebee (long story), and my siblings never call me by my name (I am “Bee” in my family- including to my nieces and nephews); as well as, my daughters and I connect with bees and want little bee tattoos one day when they’re much older.

      I’m a cat person. I adore fish (love my fish tank) and all aquatic life (especially whales and manatees), and I associate humming-birds and ducks with my beloved Uncle who passed, but was like a grandfather to me.

      So, in short, there are a LOT of animals I consider “my animals”.

      So here’s my question for you:

      Which animal(s) do you identify with most?

      For example, do you bring a certain stuffed animal in the hospital (I have a bulldog, a pig, and a jellyfish, respectively, because yes, the former two are ALSO animals I connect with), and I use the “jellyfish” metaphor a lot for courage.

      What about you? Do you have a courage animal?

    • #16541
      Paul met Debbie
      Participant

      I consider myself an animal too, a sort of sorry bald ape, and I identify with and marvel at all of my furry or feathered relatives that boldly merge with nature every day, without the use of artificial stuff like I do. I think they are extremely courageous in the way they live and deal with all the forces of nature, find food and shelter, hunt and eat and are hunted and eaten in a generous and compassionate natural flow of events.

      I have one dear teddy bear that my grandmother gifted me. It is worn and battered and much loved, so that it has become real like in the story of the Velvet Rabbit. I would never take him with me to the hospital, afraid of losing him. He is called Orsy, a French name because she brought it home from a holiday in France. It now sits on top of a small dresser, together with Debbie’s favorite cuddly bear, a soft white Rabbit and some of Buddha’s puppy toys. Occasionaly I greet them all when entering the room where they reside and sometimes we change the arrangement to give them a different view.

      In daily life we live together with our little Australian Labradoodle dog Buddha. She is all the dogs of the world in one and we love her and feel loved by her dearly.

      The animal that always makes me smile is the otter. It’s very wild, very cute and radiates so much Joy. I would not mind being an otter myself for a while. I would not be vegetarian then but that would be allright because I would hunt and catch the fish with my bare teeth and eat them raw in all fairness, as I would also be eaten by a passing bear to extend me the same courtesy. It’s a great way to die, in service of nature. Most humans will sorely lack this experience. But we can write about it.

    • #16545
      Timothy Bransford
      Participant

      Spirit animals are integral to my personal view of the world. Many people may write this off as fantastical and, possibly, delusional thinking. And they might be right. But, for me, the natural world and the spiritual world have merged into one world since childhood.
      I believe that I do not have a specific spirit animal. However, I know that I have communed with many animals over the years. I remember the owl that landed on the spruce bow outside my bedroom window and shared several minutes with me during a very trying time in my life. I remember the deer I stalked in the forest as a young man who locked eyes with me in a silent moment of decision…and I did not shoot. I remember the hummingbird that hovered 6 inches from my face for a full minute looking into my eyes (hummingbirds are especially prone to do this). As a 14-year-old, I remember the black bear that I met on the bend of a trail. 3 feet apart, I took in his rank odor and I could hear him breathing deeply and tasting the air searching for my scent. In silence, we stared into each other’s eyes (not a recommended thing to do with another carnivore in most cases). After several minutes he had enough and lumbered into the forest. I remained standing, somehow a little different for the encounter. These are a few examples from my lifetime (and I do have more examples). These exchanges between the animal world and the human world are the closest I have come to meeting a spirit animal. I was nourished by each encounter even though I could not articulate to you one conscious thought from the exchange. I came away from those encounters feeling serene and peaceful and, I believe, more fulfilled as a member of the natural world.
      I was raised in an extremely “spiritual” family (in the religious sense of the word). My father, who passed a few years back, was a Pentecostal preacher. He was also a logger (that is how he paid for his preacher lifestyle). He was an outdoorsman (that was one of the ways he fed his family). Certainly, he was not a mega-church pastor. My father loved the natural world. He could name the various flora and fauna as we hiked through the forest. He could identify the bird chirping unseen in the trees above. He knew the habits of deer, mountain goat, bear, and wolf. My father never entered the forest or hiked a mountain without marveling at the grandeur of God’s creation. I followed my father like a faithful disciple, and I soaked up his knowledge and lore. In turn, I too became a proficient outdoorsman. My faith and the natural world were inextricably intertwined. I could not say where one ends and the other begins.
      Despite his influence on my development as a child, my father and I always parted ways vis-a-vis the relationship between the natural world and humankind. He believed that we were charged by God to care for the earth and earth’s creatures. The natural world, in turn, existed to serve mankind. He measured his physical life by his ability to dominate the natural world and mold its development.
      Conversely, I believed that the Creator placed man on this earth to co-exist with nature and to live in harmony with the greater environment. In my opinion, mankind broke from that design and the world we know evolved away from harmony. I felt (and feel) that human beings need to find a pathway back to harmony and co-existence with the natural world. In so doing we find our true purpose. I became less of a religious person and more of a transcendentalist.
      Again, I know this sounds lofty, esoteric, and simplistic. This world is universally harsh and seemingly callous to the suffering of its inhabitants. I have witnessed this suffering firsthand during my years in the developing world as well as here in my own country. We see so much strife and so much heartache. It almost seems too much to bear. We feel the pull of despair. But in these times of darkness, I think we need to look for the light. It exists everywhere. Kindness, self-sacrifice, generosity, benevolence – these too are traits of humankind. I believe our encounters with animals can be spiritual. It can help elevate our perceptions so that we see what is peaceful and serene in midst of our chaos, strife, and suffering.

      • #16552
        Paul met Debbie
        Participant

        Beautiful. Words of truth. And very well written.

    • #16555
      Timothy Bransford
      Participant

      Thank you for your kind commments.

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